Q&A

What should we do? Employee is missing work because of what we suspect is domestic abuse

10/14/2014
Q. We have a female employee who is having personal problems and keeps missing work. She sometimes comes to work with visible bruises, and we suspect her spouse is abusive. While we’re sympathetic, we also have important work that isn’t getting done and the employee’s last-minute absences are a problem. We’ve told her how important attendance is, but the problem isn’t going away. Can we fire her?

How should we handle worker's upcoming transgender transformation?

10/14/2014
Q. We have a male employee in our accounting department. He recently told us that he plans to start presenting himself as female and is thinking of undergoing surgery to transform to a female. We think we will have employees who are really uncomfortable with this situation, so we are wondering if we can terminate our accounting employee or if this might get us into trouble?

Personnel files: Where & how long to keep them?

10/10/2014
Q. How long do we need to keep personnel files? And can we keep them in offsite storage?

What are my federal record-keeping requirements?

10/07/2014
Q. As a private employer, what federal record-keeping regulations must I follow?

When is an employee covered by the FMLA?

10/07/2014
Q. An employee has worked for us for 12 months, but the service has not been consecutive. Does he still qualify for leave under the FMLA?

How do I get workers comp coverage?

10/07/2014
Q. How do I go about obtaining workers’ compensation coverage? Once I have this coverage, what related rights do I have?

What's not covered by workers' comp?

10/07/2014
Q. As a Texas employer, what types of workplace injuries are excepted from my workers’ compensation insurance coverage?

Is an employee entitled to take FMLA leave to care for her hospitalized adult child?

09/26/2014
Q. Would FMLA leave apply to an employee who requests leave time to care for her daughter who is over age 21 and married? The daughter’s illness required hospitalization, but her husband is overseas on active duty with the military.

Can we--should we--try to accommodate employee's traffic anxiety?

09/26/2014

Q. One of our employees claims that traffic gives her anxiety and wants to alter her work schedule to avoid driving during peak travel times. It wouldn’t be a big deal but we’re afraid that if we do it for her, we will start to receive similar claims from other workers who have similar commutes. Do we have to accommodate her?

When is telecommuting a reasonable accommodation under the ADA and state law?

09/19/2014
Q. One of my employees was recently injured in a nonwork-related accident. If this employee returns to work and requires an accommodation to perform his duties, can allowing him to telecommute be considered reasonable accommodation?

How honest can I be when called for a reference on a subpar former employee?

09/19/2014
Q. I recently fired one of my employees, but today another company called me, stating that the former employee marked me down on a job application as an employment reference. Can I tell the prospective em­­ployer about how terrible an employee this person was?

Is it OK to have a blanket policy of rejecting applicants with criminal histories?

09/19/2014
Q. I believe I should be able to refuse employment to any prospective employee with a record of criminal conviction. Can I institute a blanket policy that bars employment to applicants with criminal records? Also, what can I ask applicants about their criminal records?

How do we rein in our staff on social media?

09/19/2014
Q. What are the rules and laws about social media? We have employees who have generated Facebook pages with our company name. They are also posting information that we are not ready to publish—such as the opening of another store in a new city.

Hiring laws in Canada: Where do we start?

09/18/2014
Q. We’re considering hiring a woman from Canada to sell our products in Canada. We have no idea how to start the process of hiring a foreign worker. Suggestions?

Can a former employee demand access to her personnel file?

09/17/2014
Q. A former employee called HR asking to review her personnel file. We already let her review her file following termination last year, and nothing has changed in the personnel file since she reviewed it. Can we just tell the former employee “No”? Or can we ask her to pay for a copy of the file for her own records? Our HR manager is going on vacation next week. Can we wait to deal with the former employee’s request until after the human resources manager gets back from vacation?
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